Saltsman’s sleeping giant draws Halloween crowd

Tom Saltsman’s giant sculpture this year — a massive troll. Photo by Emma Fringuelli

Town resident and architect Tom Saltsman has been designing and bringing giant Halloween sculptures to life in his driveway on Pleasant Street for nearly a decade.

It’s safe to say that this year’s creation did not disappoint. If you haven’t stopped by to take a look yet, do so, but be careful not to wake the sleeping (and snoring) giant.

Dozens lined the sidewalk to Saltsman’s driveway on Halloween to see “The Forest Troll,” which was inspired by Norwegian mythology. 

Saltsman said he has been sketching images of giants since August, and was able to complete the interactive sculpture in just a couple of months.

“My brother-in-law was in town and we were all talking about it and he was like ‘You gotta do a troll!’” Saltsman said. “It kind of evolved as opposed to being this spontaneous idea.”

In Norway, rock formations exist that feature troll-like shapes, which have been fascinating visitors for years.

“Trolls are an important part of our cultural heritage, and all Norwegians can tell you what they look like and how they belong to the country’s nature and traditions,” according to 

Saltsman’s creation features the large head and upper body of a troll laying sideways, fast asleep. His forehead consists of gray, rock-like bumps, with a long, pointy nose and ears, and a shaggy beard. On the other side, his hand lays still on the concrete, with fingernails that are dirty and splintered. 

He also might be missing a tooth or two, possibly from all of the Halloween treats he consumed.

While the sculpture wows everyone from the outside, it’s even more breathtaking from the inside. This year’s creation allows you to enter a magical forest through the mouth of the snoozing troll. 

Inside, the smell of pine hits you as you walk through a dark, but calm forest setting, with a trickling waterfall and bats that look so real, they might’ve given some venturers a spook. 

Saltsman’s wife, Brooke, thought of the idea to create a forest setting inside the sculpture. 

“Building the inside took the longest period of time,” Saltsman said. “This all came together in the last few weeks.”

Saltsman mostly worked on the project during nights and weekends. His previous Halloween monstrosities have included a giant gorilla, a pirate ship, spaceships, a dragon, and an Egyptian goddess, which was featured last year.

Each of the projects are made using a combination of discarded job-site materials, found objects, and custom parts and assemblies.

Mike Perry and Danni Aldrich were two Marblehead residents that got a chance to walk through the sculpture Tuesday evening, and were amazed by Saltsman’s work. Living just down the road, they said it was their first time being inside one of the sculptures despite stopping by each year.

“It was incredible,” Perry said. “It just felt like an awesome experience, especially because we both do theater and that was just stunning to see.”

“I wasn’t expecting the interior at all,” Aldrich added. “We’ve seen it from the side of the roads to and from work, and had time to go today.”

In terms of scale, this is Saltsman’s biggest project to date, however it’s the “lowest” one he has ever built, with most being vertical. 

Kids and their families look forward to seeing the projects each year on Halloween, and Saltsman said he enjoys watching the reactions he gets from the community.

“It’s the best part,” he said. “I started this doing a party and I have to say, the public aspect of it is much more fun.”

To see more of Saltsman’s work, visit